Strawberries are a delicious winter treat that so many of us wait for all year long. So it’s not surprising that we end up with a humungous haul of strawberries when they are finally at a discount at the grocery or when your garden is suddenly blooming with more strawberries than you know how to use. The essential thing that will help you in either of these cases is knowing how much time you have before your strawberries start going bad and what you can do to make them last longer.
This blog post will help you do just that. We will cover everything from how to buy the best strawberries at the market, how long the strawberries will last when stored in different ways, what steps you can take to elongate their shelf life, and how to, worst case, identify the strawberries that are going bad. So read on!
Here are a few things to look out for when you are buying strawberries at the grocery:
Now that you know how to buy the strawberries let’s see how long they will last when stored in different forms.
Strawberries thrive in cold temperatures, so unless you plan to use the strawberries the same day, it is not recommended that you store them on the counter. On the counter, your strawberries may last for up to a day or two before they start getting soft and degrading in quality in general. A better option, in this case, would be to store them in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life for a few days.
If you are using the strawberries the same day, go ahead and store them in the packaging they were bought. If needed, add a few paper towels to the container to absorb excess moisture. Remember to wash the strawberries thoroughly before using them and only wash them as you need them.
If you have already cut strawberries that you want to store, they will last maybe a day on the counter. To preserve them for a few more days, you will need to keep them in the fridge.
If you are not planning on eating the strawberries immediately, a better option at storing them is in the refrigerator. Keeping your strawberries in the fridge should make them last up to 7 – 10 days.
When you store the strawberries in the refrigerator, place them in a single layer in a container lined with paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Make sure you don’t wash the strawberries beforehand, as that will introduce unnecessary moisture and cause them to rot faster. Cover your container with a plastic lid or plastic wrap and load it into your refrigerator.
Remember to check on your strawberries every other day to make sure none of them show any signs of mold. If there is any mold, immediately toss out the strawberry before it ruins the entire batch. When you are ready to use your strawberries, remember to wash them in plenty of water to eliminate germs, bacteria, and residual pesticides.
If you are storing pre-cut strawberries, tightly wrap them in plastic wrap or releasable bags before placing them in the fridge. These strawberries will last 3 – 4 days.
To enjoy your strawberries throughout the year, a simple way to preserve them is by freezing them. You can try freezing your strawberries by washing them properly, drying them before removing their stems, and flash freeze them on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. When they have frozen solid, transfer the strawberries to freezer-safe bags and remove as much air as possible from them before you seal them shut.
Properly frozen and stored strawberries will last in your refrigerator for 10 -12 months at best quality but will remain safe to consume way beyond that. You can choose to freeze your strawberries whole or precut into smaller pieces. Either way, the process of freezing them remains the same.
Another delicious way of preserving an extra batch of strawberries is by canning them. Canning strawberries is a pretty simple process, and it allows you to store the strawberries right in your pantry! And once you can your first batch, there’s no going back. You will be canning strawberries for years to come.
Properly canned and stored strawberries can last up to 18 – 24 months in your pantry. You can add your own variations to the canning process to suit your taste buds and use these strawberries in several desserts and other dishes. However, once you open a can, you do need to store it in the refrigerator. Once opened, your can of strawberries will have to be stored in the refrigerator. These strawberries will last for up to 3 months in the fridge.
If you are interested in learning more about how to can strawberries at home, we have a canning guide perfect for getting started.
In all of the methods above, one point that you will find highlighted is the importance of cleaning the strawberries before you use them. The reason behind this is that although strawberries are one of the most well-loved fruits across the world, they continually lead the dirty dozen list.
The dirty dozen list lists the topmost fruits and vegetables with the highest percentage of pesticide residue. This list is curated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every year to educate the public about food safety. One way to expose yourself to less of these crops is by buying organic produce. However, even those are not entirely free of pesticides. Due to these reasons, it becomes crucial to know how to clean your strawberries before consuming them.
One of the first signs that strawberries show when they start to go bad is growing mold. If there are any white or gray mold signs on the strawberries, discard them immediately. The characteristic of mold is that it will start with one fruit but spreads among the other fruits in the blink of an eye if you are not careful, which is why it is so important to check on your berries often, even when they are stored in the refrigerator.
A common way to identify bad strawberries is their texture. Strawberries are among the more delicate fruits out there, so if they are not stored properly or are squished because of improper handling, they will bruise easily and start to decay fast. If the fruit has become soft, blackened, or bruised, it is best to toss it.
Another classic way of produce gone bad is their smell. Strawberries have a characteristic sweet-tart smell. If you notice an off smell emanating from them at any point during its storage, like vinegar, the strawberries have probably gone bad in storage, and it is best to discard them.
If you have frozen your strawberries, you need to look for freezer burn. Freezer burn is caused due moisture loss when you store the strawberries in the freezer. And while it is not common, it can sometimes happen when the strawberries are not stored properly. Freezer burn affects the quality of frozen food, and it is best not to consume them. In the case of canned strawberries, check on the seals of your canned jars before you pull one from the pantry for use. If there are any broken seals, discard the batch entirely as you don’t know how long the strawberries have been unsealed.
Remember that food safety is of utmost importance and should not be taken lightly. If you are ever unsure if the strawberries you are eating are suitable or safe for eating, discard them. Remember our mantra of when in doubt; throw it out!
Strawberries are delicious fruits that are jam-packed with nutrients and flavor. Because of this, you must try to include them in your diet in whatever quantity is best suitable for you. And although they don’t last terribly long in the fridge and need to be cleaned thoroughly, the positive effects outweigh these minor setbacks. Remember that there are several ways to preserve your strawberries so that they last longer, so the next time you are at the grocery store or the farmers market, don’t hesitate to pick up that extra batch of strawberries!
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